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Theme for 2022: “Faith Working Through Love” (Galatians 5:6)
In Galatians 5, Paul urges the Galatian brethren to not give up the freedom they enjoy in Jesus Christ by becoming entangled with the yoke of circumcision which Judaizing teachers compelled Gentile Christians to keep (Galatians 2:4). Paul’s exhortation was borne out of deep concern for the Galatians being turned away by a perversion of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul reminds these brethren that their salvation did not originate from the Law of Moses but rather from the Seed promise made to Abraham (Galatians 3:16-18). Hence, their justification was through faith in Jesus Christ and not through works of the Law (Galatians 2:16). Paul was genuinely afraid that these Galatians were drifting away from the gospel, and he sought to bring them back to what was truly important lest they become estranged from Christ (Galatians 4:11). Therefore, he reminds them that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but rather faith working through love (Galatians 5:6).
The faith Paul references is a subjective, individual faith evidenced by the life one lives. Paul described his faith as being crucified with Christ and living a new life in Christ, which he lived by faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him (Galatians 2:20). Paul reminds these Gentile Christians that those of faith are blessed as spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:8-9). Faith in one’s life represents their willingness to live for Christ, to sacrifice for Him, and to put Him first in all things (Philippians 3:13-14). However, in order for faith to be real, it must be a “faith working”. An active faith is one that is lived out in one’s daily life through righteousness (Romans 1:17), godly influence (Matthew 5:16), and good works (Ephesians 2:10). It is also a faith that continues to grow over the years (Matthew 17:20). Such a working faith is put into practice by helping other Christians and bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).
Faith working through love is part of being a new creature in Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:15). Love is listed as the first fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) because it is something human beings do not do naturally. Our natural inclination is to serve ourselves first. Therefore, love is the primary characteristic that shows the world we are disciples of Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35). Jesus left an example for us to follow in serving one another as a demonstration of our love for each other (John 13:12-15). Our love for each other is also demonstrated in how we care for one other as members of the body of Christ, serving in different ways but united by a common bond in Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 12:20-25). Serving one another and caring for each other is part of how we preserve our unity and maintain peace in our local congregation (Ephesians 4:1-3). Our continued growth as a unified body of Christians requires each of us to recognize that we are needed as members of the Centreville congregation and that we have responsibilities to each other as brethren.
As we begin 2022, let us find ways to demonstrate our faith working through love by actively looking for opportunities to serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Seek each other apart from worship services and continue to communicate during the week (Hebrews 13:1). Look for avenues to get to know members you do not currently know well (I Peter 4:9). Reach out to those members who may be alone or weaker in the faith to help and encourage them (Romans 12:10-11). Take the initiative to deal with issues you may have with other brethren (Matthew 18:15), and quickly address issues other brethren may have with you (Matthew 5:23). As we demonstrate our faith working through love in 2022, we will grow individually in our trust and obedience to God, and we will strengthen our unity as a body of Christ focused on our service to God and each other.